With rigs of all shapes and sizes now being a regular feature on the gym floor, and with a huge variety of quality small equipment available that together can contribute massively to a group experience, the aim of this blog series is to explore how these factors can contribute to the success of ‘Group Training’ on the gym floor. This is the third in a series of short features on’ Success in Group Training [Gym Floor]’.
The segment focuses on: choosing the right staff, staff training, staff development and keeping staff committed to continually deliver the group experience that the facility demands for its members.
As before, this feature is not meant to be a deep educational piece of work around fitness industry standards or the roles and responsibilities of staff: it is purely a personal view of the ingredients that should be considered to ensure group training or a group space is successful.
The aim of the second blog was to investigate the facility AUDIENCE, and to discuss how the design and creation of the space to support the experience for a particular audience. The aim of this short blog is to explore the staff PERFORMANCE and reinforce the notion that the staff’s behaviours should reflect the mission and values of the facility and the group space, adding to the overall group experience. Before moving on, when using the term experience, we are talking about ‘occupying a space in the customers’ (exercisers’) mind beyond the primacy of the product (fitness)’ .
Staff performance [behaviours and interactions] has a massive effect on the group experience. For something exceptional to be delivered in any industry, finding the right staff to ensure success is paramount; it is the same for the success in Group Training [Gym Floor].
In order to even contemplate delivering a positive exerciser experience, staff need to be both confident and competent with the tools they are going to use [in the small group space, equipment, programming, music, lighting and flooring are just props (tools) to support the delivery of the experience].
In order to feel both confident and competent, staff will require education, training and development, but before the learning starts, finding the right staff is crucial.
As mentioned in a previous blog, group teaching is a skill, a craft, an art.
To be able to create environments that make people feel safe, to be able to develop trust and a value, staff have to understand, comprehend and apply knowledge, skills and behaviours that match the experience that the facility has promised to its members. This includes utilising the props that have been installed as support to the group space. Staff behaviours are key in creating the group experience; the facility would like the instructor to create a group/community-based culture [from the Latin; cultus, which means care], but also allowing time for each the individual within the group.
Who in the team of staff has demonstrated group skills, who in the team has demonstrated a personality that would match the experience that the facility wishes to create? Personality is huge when thinking about success in this fitness discipline. Who in the team has mentioned that they would like an opportunity to teach groups?
These are the sort of individuals that a facility should be talking to regarding the group space/teaching. Finding the right staff to deliver this experience is a must, if a new speciality is to appear on the gym floor.
What type of personality a facility is looking for depends on the values and mission of each individual facility and the types of members the facility is currently targeting or wishes to attract?
The facility should have a clear idea about the type of group session it wants to deliver; the numbers of exercisers per session; the length of the session; the content; the overall time of each session; the number of sessions per day; and as mentioned earlier, the type of member they hope to attract.
Another consideration is discussion around, what will the staff be able to know, and demonstrate [skills/behaviours/interactions] by the end of the learning? This will ensure that the planned staff education, training and development has specific learning outcomes that can be measured, to what will eventually be delivered on the facility floor, to the member.
A facility cannot just rely on the initial training [regardless of the experience and reputation of the educator] to ensure that the unique group experience is maintained.
Staff DEVELOPMENT is so important, if staff are to take what has been learned and move on. Practice and feedback, NOT talent, is the key to success . A lot of confidence building, and the development of staff is in the continual follow-up after the initial training.
Staff would have learnt the skills during the training but developing the skills and honing the behaviours and interactions comes from practice and feedback. Getting staff to act and behave differently requires time and feedback. Investment in staff training and development is so important when creating different experiences.
Motivation for each of us is different, and it’s not the aim of this blog to discuss different personality types and what motivates them. However, facilities do need to consider the time and effort that the chosen staff have put into developing themselves and how they are to be incentivised.
Everyone should benefit from the new space, and the staff who create and deliver the unique experience are no different.
Finally, all facility staff will need some education and training: this will ensure that the facility’s message regarding the new space is delivered clearly to the members.
Staff performance [behaviours and interactions] has a massive effect of the group experience. Choose staff wisely and provide great education, training and development that allows the unique experience to be staged consistently.
 adapted from j. trout (differentiate or die)
 adapted from m. syed (bounce)
Written by Keith Smith